Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dear Admin: Let's Fail Together

Dear Admin,

I want to start by saying that I watch how hard you work. When others in the lunchroom assume that you are just wandering aimlessly from room to room - I defend you. I'm an observer. I see that you are working hard, with all your heart, to keep our school all moving in one direction, and I know that you are doing your best to do right by our kids.

I have been in the classroom a long time. I am good at my job. I build relationships, with kids, and their parents. I engage. I empower my students to grow; I track their growth using data; I share data with my collaborative team. I have perfectly angled borders on my bulletin boards, my room is decked in parent pleasers for Back to School night, I don't fill your office with kids, I attend every staff meeting and I sit somewhere in the middle. What I am saying is - I like the direction our school is heading, I'm following your lead: I'm in.

Ok, well, there is one thing...

Technology freaks me out. It is not that I don't think that I couldn't learn a few slick tips and tricks. It is just that I know, that the minute the tech genie comes out of the bottle, I will have lost my power. The thought of my 30 kids clicking in 60 different directions with every passing minute makes my head spin. I know that in the blink of an eye, and the stroke of a keyboard, students will be down the rabbit hole of flash games and unmentionable keyword searches.

I know this is the pendulum that has everyone swinging, but I somehow stepped off the ride and I am not sure how to get back on. So, I am asking you for help.

I will take the plunge into the icy waters known as the fear of failure - if you will too. I will get the kids on the Chromebooks, creating rather than simply consuming, if you will take the same leap with me.

As the learner charged with leading our staff, It must be scary: the thought of trying something new in front of all of us adults can be a little intimidating. What if you tried some new tech trick to engage staff at a staff meeting and it bombed? What if you stood in front of the staff and committed to using a Google Doc, as a staff meeting agenda, and you set the sharing permissions wrong? What if our staff meeting got completely derailed because we had to stop the meeting to make sure everyone could access the agenda? What if you used a Google Form to get feedback from the staff and you accidentally shared the editable form instead of the viewable form?! What if you asked staff to place their names on a Google sheet indicating which Adjunct Duty they prefer and somebody accidentally deleted everyone else's work?! What if you spent hours taking pictures and editing a video that you placed on youtube to show the staff, and on the day of the meeting, the internet went down?

The answer to each of the horror story questions above is this: you would fail in front of our whole staff...and that would be a good thing.

You would be showing our staff your willingness to try something new. You'd show that you weren't afraid to experiment, innovate and use technology to leverage the creativity of the entire staff. You would fail, you'd struggle, you would feel a flash of embarrassment and a sense of shame, then you would smile, then you'd shrug, then laugh. Then we would smile, then we'd laugh, then we would all realize that it is ok to fail. The whole staff would recognize that if you had the courage to fail in front of the adults, then we should have the courage to do the same in front of our kids.

I'm am looking forward to taking your lead on failure. I will only embrace failure as much as my leader does, so, for the sake of our kids, I hope you are a huge failure this year with technology! Good luck, we are all counting on you.

Sincerely,

The teacher who sits in the middle of the staff meeting.